Empowering Student LearningAt one point in time, having a compliant classroom was what the teacher hoped to maintain. We grew from that to striving for a classroom where students were engaged with the content. The shift we're hoping for today is a student who is empowered: empowered with the knowledge and skills to pursue their own learning (Couros, The Innovator's Mindset).
How do you dive deeper into this shift? Check out the resources attached to this newsletter. George Couros book, The Innovator's Mindset is a great resource. His blog post on this topic might be a good place to start. John Spencer's video, "The Shift from Engaging Students to Empowering Learners" is a great introduction to this shift. Silvia Duckworth's Sketchnote is a glimpse into the student-empowered classroom.
Take a look. Reflect (always a good practice). Take a dip into the deep end.
Future Ready is an effort intended to bring about digital learning opportunities designed to prepare students for college, career and citizenship. It provides a framework, resources, training and support. Districts that sign the Future Ready pledge "commit to foster and lead a culture of digital learning in their districts" (Dept. of Education). Academy School District 20 is one of those districts.
What does this mean for the classroom teacher? Much of what happens in this effort is behind the scenes in support of our students and the learning experience. To support districts committed to this effort, Future Ready Schools has a created number of programs:
At the heart of Future Ready Schools is a Framework. The framework consists of 7 gears focused around Personalized Student Learning:
At Pine Creek High School we've already taken a number of steps down this road. We have improved our infrastructure; we have established common planning for much of our staff; we have a path to determine if digital resources ensure our student's data privacy; we are developing assessment literacy and digital leaders; our professional learning weaves together our site plan with department needs; and, we are working though our assessment process and honors project. We're already taking great steps forward to be Future Ready and we're just beginning!
Students feel valued when they feel safe and feel that they've been heard. It's within that environment that they are free to take risks and grow. The same is true for educators.
George Couros (The Innovator's Mindset) says, "the culture we create for our staff is also essential because it trickles down to our students... If we want educators and students to be excited to come to school each day, we have to create an environment where they feel valued. Feeling valued doesn't mean that we don't have flaws and weaknesses; it is just that we do not start from that point."
At Pine Creek High School we have collaborative teams that are engaged in team building and collaborative work to develop that environment. This isn't a box to be checked, but an ongoing process supported by Learning Leaders, Instructional Coaches, Department Chairs, and Administration. The process in which we are engaged is an exciting one. The path may not be straight, but it has direction and support. For this I am thankful and I am excited for what we can achieve.
Click here for more on student voice.
Click here for more on taking risks.
Change is hard. Change, when we don’t drive it ourselves, can make us feel like we haven’t been doing something right or our work isn’t good enough. That’s not what it’s meant to be.
“Change is an opportunity to do something amazing” (Couros 3). It’s the process of bettering ourselves, of improving, growing and always learning. To change as educators is to embrace the premise that our world is continually evolving and our students will need to be prepared to walk into a world that is different than yesterday and especially different than the world we walked into at their age. To change is to innovate our instruction to meet today’s students where they are and not where we once were.
Change, for the sake of change, is not innovation. It’s just something different. Merely using technology is not innovation, either. “Technology can be crucial in the development of innovative organizations, but innovation is less about tools like computers, tablets, social media, and the Internet, and more about how we use those things” (Couros 20). It’s the why that gives us vision and inspires us (Sinek); it’s that how that puts our vision into action.
We have an amazing opportunity to change the learning experiences of our students on a daily basis. For that change to be innovative, we need to keep the learner at the center and ask what is best for this learner and what is best for his or her future. “Any time teachers think differently about who they teach and how they teach, they can create better learning opportunities” (Couros 21).
“The role of the teacher is to inspire learning and develop skills and mindsets of learners. A teacher, designer and facilitator, should continually evolve with resources, experiences, and the support of a community.” (Martin) Keep the dialog open. Ask questions. Collaborate. Take a risk. Reflect. Re-evaluate. Share. You have a community. Take advantage of those resources. Take the opportunity to do something amazing.
I am a Digital Learning Coach by title, but lifelong learner by practice. An Apple Teacher, Google Certified Educator and Microsoft Innovative Educator, my goal is to assist educators in investigating, exploring, and investigating resources to embed in their instruction. I also hope to be a part of their journey toward an innovative and transformative practice that empowers learners and strengthens their own craftsmanship. I spends my free time with my family, my dogs and a good cup of coffee.